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Abbas: Direct Peace Talks Depend on Israeli Concessions

U.S. efforts to push Middle East peace talks into a new phase are facing obstacles. The Palestinians are making demands that Israel is unlikely to accept.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is resisting pressure from the United States and Israel to move from indirect peace talks to face-to-face negotiations. He told leaders of his Fatah movement that Israel has one week to respond to his conditions for direct talks.

Abbas has said that Israel must accept the 1967 lines as the framework for the future borders of a Palestinian state. And he wants a commitment that Israel's 10-month moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements will continue beyond its September expiration date.

Mr. Abbas said he has a commitment from the U.S. that if he enters direct talks, the settlement moratorium will be extended.

Israel has not confirmed that, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from hawkish coalition partners and members of his own Likud party, not to extend the building freeze.

Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein supports Israeli construction.

"The position of the Israeli government is very clear, including the position of the prime minister. The freeze was supposed to last 10 months; 10 months will be over on September 26. This is our position: There will be no additional freeze," he said.

Both the Palestinians and the U.S. see the settlements as an obstacle to peace.

Last March, President Barack Obama failed to persuade Mr. Netanyahu to halt building projects in East Jerusalem, which the United States sees as the capital of a future Palestinian state.